The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 United States Monday, June 25, 2018

The Birmingham Museum of Art premiers The Look of Love
Rose gold oval ring surrounded by a blue enamel border containing ten small and two large diamonds enclosed in a border of natural split pearls, ca. 1790. Brown left eye. Purchased from Edith Weber, New York. Dimensions: 3⁄4 × 1 1⁄4 × 7⁄8 in.

BIRMINGHAM, AL.- The Birmingham Museum of Art debuts The Look of Love: Eye Miniatures from the Skier Collection, the first major exhibition of lover's eye jewelry, on display from February 7, 2012 to June 10, 2012.

Exquisite in craftsmanship, unique in detail, and few in number, lover's eye miniatures are small-scale portraits of individual eyes set into various forms of jewelry from late 18th- and early 19th-century England. Featuring an impressive 98 pieces, the collection is considered to be the largest of its kind, with only 1,000 lover's eye miniatures thought to be in existence worldwide. Part of a trend that began with Britain's Prince of Wales (later George IV), clandestine lovers exchanged these customized tokens depicting one another's eyes, as such a feature might only be recognized by persons of the most intimate familiarity. Thus, behind the skilled artistry with which each of these tiny portraits was painted, lie the enchanting stories of secret romance and love lost, which inspired the creation of this popular, albeit short-lived fashion.

Dr. Graham C. Boettcher, The William C. Hulsey Curator of American Art at the Birmingham Museum of Art, organized The Look of Love with the participation of collectors, Dr. David and Mrs. Nan Skier of Birmingham.

“We are delighted to present the largest ever exhibition of these intriguing and enigmatic objects, which are sure to delight the viewer with their beauty, intricacy, and mystery,” says Boettcher.

A Secret Affair
The genesis of lover’s eyes is a story of forbidden love. In 1784, the 21-year-old Prince of Wales became smitten with Mrs. Maria Fitzherbert, a Catholic widow. Under the Royal Marriage Act, the Prince could not marry without his father’s consent until the age of 25, and it was highly unlikely that King George III would agree to the heir to the throne marrying a Catholic widow. Mrs. Fitzherbert initially rebuffed the Prince’s advances, but after he staged a suicide attempt to demonstrate his despair, she gave in and accepted his proposal. The following day, she came to her senses and fled to the Continent, remaining there for more than a year. She hoped that her absence would quell the Prince’s feelings, but true to the old adage, it only made his heart grow fonder. On November 3, 1785, the Prince wrote to Mrs. Fitzherbert with a second proposal of marriage. Instead of sending an engagement ring, he sent her a picture of his own eye, painted by the miniaturist Richard Cosway, writing, “P.S. I send you a Parcel…and I send you at the same time an Eye, if you have not totally forgotten the whole countenance. I think the likeness will strike you.” Shortly thereafter, Mrs. Fitzherbert returned to England and married the Prince in a secret ceremony on December 15, 1785. Not long after their clandestine nuptials, Mrs. Fitzherbert (as she preferred to remain) commissioned Cosway to paint a miniature of her own eye for the Prince. The Prince of Wales’ token of affection inspired an aristocratic trend for exchanging eye portraits mounted in a wide variety of settings lasting the next few decades.

Struck by the splendor of an elegant ring featuring a lover's eye portrait, Nan and David Skier began their eye miniature collection with this solitary purchase in 1993 at an antiques show. Over the past several years, they have quietly built the largest collection of lover's eye miniatures in the world.

“These rarities are at once works of art, precious jewels, and fragments of history. How poignant it is that each eye represents an actual person and an actual story of a long-ago love or bereavement, now lost to the passage of time,” says Mrs. Skier.

The collection now contains an incredible array of 98 objects, both decorative and functional, from simple lockets to lavish rings, as well as watch keys and toothpick cases, each of which features an eye miniature. While the majority of the pieces were meant to be worn as jewelry, mainly brooches and pendants, some were intended to be carried on one’s person in the form of small boxes. Each object from the collection will be on display in remarkable installation cases in the Arrington gallery. Admission to the exhibition is free of charge.

Today's News

February 8, 2012

Evening fine art sale from the Collection of Elizabeth Taylor achieves $21.8 million

Getty Museum announces two acquisitions: A rare Fragonard and a German painting

Top contemporary art figure, Spanish painter and sculptor Antoni Tapies, dead at 88

Israel Antiquities Authority has unearthed the foundation of a large fortress on the Hill of Jonah in Ashdod

Met Museum Announces Major Renovation Plans for its Fifth Avenue Plaza and Fountains

"Generationally wealthy" art connoisseurs impacting market for 19th century oriental rugs

Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei to design Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2012

World Trade Center cost rises to $14.8B; projected cost has risen $3.8 billion since 2008

Per Kirkeby and the "Forbidden Paintings" of Kurt Schwitters at the Centre for Fine Arts

Queen Elizabeth II by Cecil Beaton: A Diamond Jubilee Celebration at the Victoria & Albert Museum

History expert Barry Landau pleads guilty to stealing documents; faces up to 10 years in prison

New-York Historical Society displays a manuscript copy of the Thirteenth Amendment signed by Lincoln

United States Judge Robert Hinkle: Baroque artwork to return to man's heirs

Comprehensive overview of Mikhailov's complex and varied oeuvre opens at Sprovieri

Fred Kruger: Intimate Landscapes at the National Gallery of Victoria

Maurizio Cattelan app named top app for 2012

The Birmingham Museum of Art premiers The Look of Love

Bob Dylan's 1965 Newport jacket to be exhibited at the National Museum of American History

Most Popular Last Seven Days

1.- Galerie Miranda opens exhibition of works by Marina Berio

2.- Restorers unveil original face of Belgium's 'Mystic Lamb'

3.- Classic Beauties unveils the sensual enchantment of Neoclassicism

4.- Exhibition presents a dramatic survey of five hundred years of Spanish painting

5.- Glasgow blaze guts one of world's top art schools - again

6.- The Prado opens the first major monographic exhibition on Lorenzo Lotto's portraits

7.- Cleveland Museum of Art announces new acquisitions

8.- A record setting necklace, diamonds & gemstones propel $1.9 million in jewelry sales at Rago in June

9.- Czech Art Nouveau painter Mucha's masterpiece finds home after 90 years

10.- Exhibition at The Laing Art Gallery explores the garden as a "stage" for the extraordinary

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
Editor & Publisher:Jose Villarreal - Consultant: Ignacio Villarreal Jr.
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

Royalville Communications, Inc
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful